Lung cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the lungs. It usually develops in the cells that line the air passages. The two main types of lung cancer are non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer. Non-small cell lung cancer is more common and grows more slowly than small cell lung cancer. Lung cancer treatment options vary depending on the type and stage of the disease, and may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, or a combination of these approaches.
The causes of lung cancer are not fully understood, but some risk factors have been identified. These include:
Smoking: This is the most significant risk factor for lung cancer. The risk of developing lung cancer is directly related to the number of cigarettes smoked per day and the number of years smoked.
Exposure to secondhand smoke: This can increase the risk of developing lung cancer, particularly for non-smokers who are exposed to smoke for long periods.
Exposure to radon gas: This is a natural gas that is found in some homes and can cause lung cancer if levels are high.
Exposure to other chemicals: Exposure to certain chemicals, such as asbestos and diesel exhaust, can increase the risk of developing lung cancer.
The risk factors for lung cancer include:
Smoking: Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer. People who smoke cigarettes, cigars, or pipes are at higher risk of developing lung cancer.
Exposure to secondhand smoke: Breathing in secondhand smoke can also increase the risk of lung cancer.
Radon: Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can be found in soil, rocks, and water. Breathing in high levels of radon can increase the risk of lung cancer.
Exposure to asbestos and other chemicals: Exposure to certain chemicals and substances such as asbestos, arsenic, and diesel exhaust can increase the risk of lung cancer.
Family history: People with a family history of lung cancer are at a higher risk of developing the disease.
Previous radiation therapy: People who have had radiation therapy to the chest for another type of cancer are at an increased risk of developing lung cancer.
Air pollution: Exposure to air pollution, particularly in urban areas, can increase the risk of lung cancer.
Symptoms of lung cancer may include:
A cough that doesn’t go away or gets worse over time
Shortness of breath
Coughing up blood
Unintentional weight loss
Prevention of lung cancer includes:
Avoiding exposure to secondhand smoke
Testing homes for radon gas and taking steps to reduce levels if necessary
Protecting yourself from exposure to other chemicals known to cause lung cancer
It is important to visit a doctor if you experience any symptoms of lung cancer. Early detection and treatment can improve the chances of successful treatment. If you are at higher risk for lung cancer, such as a current or former smoker, your doctor may recommend regular screenings. These screenings may include a low-dose CT scan. Prompt diagnosis and access to a personalized lung cancer treatment plan, including surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, or immunotherapy, can significantly improve outcomes for patients.
Care My Cancer is an initiative by Dr Kamlesh Verma who is Director Surgical Oncology at Globe Healthcare and was formerly associated with the prestigious Tata Memorial Hospital Mumbai.
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